By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Dan Williams
GAZA/JERUSALEM, May 13 (Reuters) – Israel ruled out an immediate truce in Gaza on Saturday, saying Palestinian militants have a responsibility to stop firing rockets from an arsenal it suggested could run out within days, while its planes they continued to attack the enclave.
“We are not having ceasefire talks,” national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said at a municipal event near Jerusalem, adding that Israel’s priority now was firing on the militants.
Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli raid on the outskirts of Nablus in the northern West Bank, where clashes were raging, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. A military spokesman said gunmen exchanged fire with Israeli forces.
Islamic Jihad’s armed wing said it would press on with barrages of rockets, with the fighting entering its fifth day. “The resistance has prepared for months of confrontation,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement.
The Israeli army said planes attacked Islamic Jihad command centers and rocket launchers in Gaza. Huge clouds of smoke rose as loud explosions ripped through the bombed areas.
In the Deir Al-Balah area of the central Gaza Strip, a building was leveled while nearby houses were demolished. There were no reports of casualties, but residents were searching through piles of rubble.
“The destruction is miserable, the mind does not accept it,” a resident, Marwan Al-Dirawi, told Reuters.
Airstrikes on a house also damaged the nearby Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital, injuring several nurses and patients with shrapnel, said Eyad Abu Zaher, the hospital’s director.
Israel’s military says it has done everything possible to limit civilian casualties and damage to homes and accuses Islamic Jihad of deliberately locating its command centers in residential areas.
Gaza militants fired rockets from dawn, setting off sirens and sending Israelis across the border running for bomb shelters. At least two people were seriously injured by shrapnel, Israel’s ambulance service said.
Egypt has been trying to broker a truce to stop the violence, which has so far left at least 33 Palestinians and one Israeli dead.
At least four women and six children have been killed in Gaza, an impoverished coastal territory blocked by Israel and Egypt since 2007. In Israel, a woman was killed when a Gaza rocket hit an apartment near Tel Aviv.
A Palestinian official with knowledge of the truce talks described them as “complicated” and “tough” but also said Cairo was going ahead with its efforts.
Six senior commanders of the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad have been killed since Tuesday, when Israeli forces launched a campaign against the group, which it accuses of planning the attacks.
Israeli military officials have said they have seen no signs that Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, has fired rockets and that airstrikes have so far targeted only Islamic Jihad sites.
Islamic Jihad, the largest armed group in Gaza after Hamas, has since fired more than 1,000 rockets.
Hanegbi said his arsenal was 6,000 rockets. Islamic Jihad has not provided details on its weaponry, but the remaining 5,000 rounds would allow it to maintain an intense rate of fire for several days. That timeline would likely change if Hamas joins the fight. (Reporting by Ali Sawafta, Dan Williams, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)